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Football  known as "the wonderful sport," would be regarded as an art form if it weren't for the physical surroundings where it is contested. Football stands apart from most other sports because players are allowed to express themselves freely. Footballers can shoot, pass, defend, or dribble a ball in a number of ways, whereas baseball players and cricket players are restricted to certain moves. This freedom of movement enables the most gifted players to excel at the highest levels of the game. 

This section only includes retired footballers. Now that both of them are close to retiring, Leo Messi & Cristiano are included in this ranking and their careers may be fairly assessed. Otherwise, it comprises all retiring players throughout the modern era of the game as it has been documented. Current athletes whose careers are in the early stages are excluded. 

Zinedine Zidane 


The attributes of Zidane that stood out were his unique talent, ball handling, physical strength, and passing. His strongest performances frequently came in the most crucial matches, displaying a temperament not generally seen in other athletes. He played as a midfielder for 789 appearances, scoring 159 goals. He captured the 1998 World Cup and also 2000 European Championship for France. He achieved 3 league championships and one European Cup with Juve and Madrid, respectively. After retiring, Zidane applied his smarts to managing the football team, leading Real Madrid to three straight European Championships. 


Alfredo Di Stéfano


Alfredo Di Stéfano must rank first among the forwards on the ranking. He became Real Madrid's most successful goal scorer, scoring 511 goals in 702 appearances. But he was not the typical striker; he was active across the field, tackling, passing, and controlling the game. In the history of the game, he has been the most polished player. 

Di Stéfano achieved an astounding 5 European Cup triumphs alongside Real Madrid, scoring in each of the championship games. 13 league championships were won by him during his career. Despite winning a Copa América for Argentina, his overall record is dismal because he did not appear in a World Cup. 


Ferenc Puskás


The greatest goal scorer in history was arguably Ferenc Puskás. He achieved a remarkable 700 scores in 705 games throughout his era by merging his striking proficiency with an intellectual ability and the capacity to create new talents.. He claimed 5 league championships & 3 European Cups with Real Madrid. He has claimed five more league championships in Hungary. Hungary was led by him to reach the 1954 World Cup Finals on the world arena. 


Franz Beckenbauer


Despite the fact that Franz Beckenbauer has been a sweeper—a defender who played the ball and supported offenses—he still managed to score 110 goals in 775 games for Germany and Bayern Munich. He was practically all over everything simultaneously while controlling action, asserting his impact, and "sweeping up" opposing assaults that got past the defense, much like Di Stéfano never held any genuine spot on the field. Although Beckenbauer was the excellent leader, he was also among the best athletes in history due to his exceptional technical skill in dribble, passing, and all other areas. 


Johann Cruyff


Johan Cruyff has the power, talent, and ball control of Zinedine Zidane as well as the dribbling and speed of George Best. He was just the epitome of a football player, with a perfect elegance, a clinical aptitude, plus calculated intellect. In 710 games as an offensive midfielder, Cruyff scored 401 goals, making him a prolific striker as well. Although he amassed 3 European Cups as well as ten league championships, he was unable to win an international title. 


Cristiano Ronaldo


At the age of 18, Cristiano Ronaldo entered Man Utd as a winger, where his game quickly took off. Three Premier Leagues as well as a Champions League were among the nine titles he won there. When he joined Real Madrid at the age of24, Ronaldo had already become a striker and won additional 15 titles there, with Two league wins & Four Champions Leagues. Ronaldo has won five individual Ballon d'Ors in addition to 32 team championships, winning Euro 2016 alongside Portugal. 


Diego Maradona


The finest skill in football history may have been displayed by Diego Maradona. His goal-scoring skill was exceptional and clinical, and his passing and crossing were accurate, which helped him accumulate numerous assists during his career. He also had mesmerizing dribbling talent. He played 690 games and 345 shots on goal in the attacking midfield. 

Maradona had a considerably more challenging role than Pelé, yet he still managed to win the 1986 World Cup with Argentina (nearly all by himself), along with 3 league championships and first UEFA Cup for Napoli. Diego hit one of the best goals in football history playing against England. 




In his home Brazil, Pelé was always the greatest goal machine, and many people consider him to be the greatest athlete to ever play the game. In 1,365 games, he did score an astonishing 1,280 goals including friendly games. He was able to score any type of goal for pleasure thanks to his incredible strength, speed, and dribbling skills. According to the Ballon d'Or board, if non-Europeans had already been given the award until 1995, Pelé might well have received it seven times, matching Messi's total.  

Pelé was the sole player to win the World Cup 3 times, in 1958, 1962, & 1970, playing his greatest football in each of those years. He additionally earned 5 league titles in a row and 2 Copa Libertadores in Brazil. In the teams that won at the international level, he played alongside footballers with exceptional skills like Carlos Alberto, Garrincha, & Vavá. He had become representative for these groups and frequently received all the glory. 


Lionel Messi 


Leo Messi came to Spain at the age of thirteen & made his first-team debut with Barcelona at the age of 16 following a fruitful experience with the club. He continued to enjoy success with the Catalan club, winning Ten league championships, seven national cups, and four Champions Leagues. Messi moved to Psg toward the conclusion of his profession, and in 2022 there he earned a further league championship. He has won seven solo Ballon d'Ors in addition to 38 team championships. 

Messi has a reputation for having fast feet, flexibility, power (although having a tiny body), speed, and the capacity to dribble past the defender. Besides heading, Messi possesses all the necessary offensive tools, including a precise shot, the ability to take corner kicks and penalties and the initiative to combine plays and make assists. 

Messi has almost 760 professional goals, and after leading Argentina towards the 2022 World Cup final, he just passed Ronaldo as the tournament's leading scorer. Messi scored two more goals in the championship game, and at age35, he won the World Cup to cap off an incredible career that may have been its pinnacle. He is getting close to scoring 100+ goals for Argentina, which he also represented in the 2021 Copa América. 

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